Poetry, asters to zeppelins

I started to comment on Tyler’s post, “Preach on, Sister Meyer.  Preach On.” But–look out–the comment mushroomed.  Adam G’s comment especially caught my attention. His question seems to be, is it possible to talk about poetry–especially in terms of hierarchies and other high-falutin’ standards for determining a poem’s worthiness–with language that doesn’t float above us like a leviathan, bomb-totin’, gas-filled bag of pretension?

If that’s his question, I think it’s a good one. Continue reading “Poetry, asters to zeppelins”

Publishing Economics I: The real costs come before you print

Over the past few years I’ve come across statements that show a misunderstanding of the basic costs and economics that book publishers and producers face. For example, there are regular complaints about the cost of ebooks in comparison to print books, generally suggesting that publishers have priced ebooks unreasonably high. Other statements imply that traditional publishers keep 90% of the profits of book sales, while giving the author just a small part. Still others assume that since the cost of producing each additional ebook is nothing, that ebooks will soon overtake print book sales and publishers will disappear.

As I considered these claims, I realized that they are often based on little or no knowledge of publishing economics. So I thought it might be useful to give a basic overview of the costs and economics of book publishing–something that might help those considering publishing their own ebooks, and that might help consumers decide if prices really are too high and authors understand why publishers don’t give them more money. I’m sure for some readers this is obvious–if so, then you likely agree with me about many of the complaints about publishers aren’t justified, or you will be able to tell me why I’m wrong.

Continue reading “Publishing Economics I: The real costs come before you print”

The Difficulties Faced by an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore

A couple of weeks ago Jonathan Langford posted his vision of an online Mormon Lit bookstore–something I’m also quite interested in. I very much believe in that vision, and if I had the resources and connections necessary, I’d start the bookstore he describes as soon as possible. I think such a bookstore could be successful, and would likely be a great help to building and audience for Mormon literature.

There are, however, some large hurdles to overcome.

Continue reading “The Difficulties Faced by an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore”

The Concept of an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore

Many of us (here and elsewhere) have lamented over the problem of trying to reach and/or create an audience of Mormon readers who might have an interest in fiction reflecting a Mormon perspective but grittier or more realistic than what standard LDS bookstores can or will carry.

I don’t have any new ideas about how to find those readers. However, I do have an idea about a different piece of the puzzle. At the moment, there’s no single place to send people where they can browse for authors and titles that might interest them. My suggestion: an online store that caters specifically to Mormon literature, organized to make browsing easy — like a good brick-and-mortar bookstore — with a broad and inclusive enough selection that people could explore with a fair confidence of finding what they’re looking for.

Continue reading “The Concept of an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore”

How Vulnerable is the LDS Market?

What will the LDS market look like 20 years from now? Will there even be an LDS market? Will there still be LDS books, music, film and other cultural goods? If they exist, will they simply be sold as part of the national market in the U.S.? What about outside of the U.S.?

Continue reading “How Vulnerable is the LDS Market?”

Andrew Hall reports on the struggles of independent LDS publishers

Wm writes: Andrew Hall, who does a yearly report on Mormon publishing, approached me with the idea for a story on the struggles that some of the small, independent LDS publishers are having in the current economic environment. I told him that if he pursued the story that I’d be happy to post it here. It’s always tough doing something like this — to be honest my first reaction was to shy away from the idea. No one wants to report “bad” news. Or at least I don’t. Even when I’m critical, it’s because I want things to improve and get better. And I do think it’s also important for authors and fans in the world of Mormon letters (which is what the AMV crowd represents) to be aware of what’s going on.

For what it’s worth: in my opinion (that is as someone who works in higher education public relations and has worked with the local and national media) this is a well-sourced, multiple-sourced story that brings in the major needed points of view. It does rely at times on anonymous sources, but I’m personally confident that Andrew has used them judiciously and within standard journalistic practices. But also keep in mind that it also represents particular points of view. No one story — no matter how long and well-sourced can do full justice to an issue or event or series of events. That said: this story is worth telling, Andrew has done an excellent job, and many thanks to all those who were willing to correspond with Andrew and especially those willing to go on record.

The struggles of independent LDS publishers

By Andrew Hall

In a Mormon book market dominated by two Church owned publishers and two Church owned bookstores, all which have considerable resources at their disposal, independent publishers live a precarious existence.  Independent publishers provide the diversity of outlets which any marketplace needs to thrive. With finite resources and limited opportunities to reach readers, however, the life span of such publishers tends to be short, and authors with works produced by these companies must take the lion’s share of the marketing on themselves.  This article will look at the current state of three small independent publishers, Valor Publishing Group, WiDo Publishing, and Leatherwood Press.  Valor Publishing in particular is going through what can charitably be called a moment of transition, with two of the four founding members of the company resigning, and several authors taking back their book rights. Continue reading “Andrew Hall reports on the struggles of independent LDS publishers”

Vote on William’s byline/author credit

So I’ve been listening to more podcasts, and I got to the , and I realized that I’m doing the cobbler’s children thing with my own poor self. I mean, I know branding — it’s a big part of my day job. And I’ve done that a bit with my life as a writer/critic, but at the moment there’s brand confusion out there. I’m using both William Morris and Wm Morris and the former isn’t search engine friendly to me at all (because of competition with the 19th century socialist poet and designer AND the talent agency) and there’s no chance of getting a vanity URL with it. I started out with just William Morris because I like the symmetry and the link to my forebearers in the fields of literature and public relations. And I have been using Wm for awhile because it’s shorter to type (that’s a bit nonsensical, but I assure you it made sense to me when I started doing it) and for some reason I like the way that there’s just the ‘W’ and the ‘m.’

So here’s a completely self-indulgent poll. Help me figure out what my byline should be. Comments (even mocking ones) are much appreciated.

[poll id=”3″]

A Short History of Mormon Publishing: Introduction

In January of 1845, Elder Parley P. Pratt published regulations for the official publications of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was worried about the multitude of books and tracts being published by members of the Church, for he wrote: Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: Introduction”

The Last 20 Years in Mormon Lit: Major Developments

What are some of the major developments in Mormon literature over the past 20 years? Being under the painfully pleasant necessity of writing a short article (500-1000 words) during the next week on Mormon literature for a forthcoming reference work, this is something I’ve had occasion to ponder. I have an excellent source for up to about 1990 with the articles that were written for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but there’s an awful lot that has happened since then.

Electronic Publishing: an interview with Moriah Jovan, part II

In Part I of my interview with Moriah Jovan, she provided overview of the electronic publishing market as it currently stands as well as some of the overall issues the e-books market is facing. Here in Part II, we get in to e-books in the Mormon market as well as a some advice for authors and publishers and some prognostication.

Every Sunday, I see both men and women using smartphones or PDAs to read scriptures and lesson manuals. The Church actually does a decent job of providing electronic versions of some of its materials. Do you think e-books could sell in the Mormon market? Why or why not? What types do you think would do best?

I think e-books can sell in the Mormon market as long as people are conditioned to expect products in E. Thing is, storefronts for LDS materials are so few and far between (especially east of the Rockies) that it’s not even a thought in most people’s heads. If your temple happens to have a bookstore nearby, yay, but the pickings might be slim. I live 4.5 hours away from the Nauvoo temple, and invariably get most of my materials there. (I must admit that we have a new bookstore here in KC [not very far from where I live], but I haven’t been there yet. I’m annoyed that they spam email me and there’s only ONE way they could’ve gotten my email address. It’s been a deliberate choice not to go there for that reason.) Continue reading “Electronic Publishing: an interview with Moriah Jovan, part II”